It goes without mention that people in wheelchairs face more difficulties navigating through life. Organizations like Canine Companions for Independence provide service dogs to those individuals requiring assistance. These trust companions make life more manageable in addition to being loyal companions. Ryan, born with cerebral palsy, has benefited significantly over the past 18 months since he got Pico as his service dog.
Recently Ryan Honick and Pico faced an unexpected situation at Petco which not only caused distress for the pair but was a violation of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). Ryan was denied access to the grooming area and was forced to be separated from Pico.
ADA states: … service dog teams are welcomed anywhere the public is allowed and that a service dog’s human companion must maintain control of the animal at all times.
It is ironic that on the very week the ADA turned 25, PETCO discriminated against Ryan and Pico by trying to separate them in the grooming area and classifying it as a non-public space. This designation was never intended to justify forcible separation of service dog teams to receive public services except in extreme cases.
At first review the decision to separate the service team may not seem like a major issue, however, there is the potential to significantly damage Ryan’s working relationship with Pico. Relinquishing control of Pico to someone who has no knowledge on how he is trained meant Ryan would be unable to solve any problems that may arise from mishandling Pico, which in turn may lead to phobias and significantly damage his ability to work. Forcing the separation could jeopardize Pico’s trust in Ryan and reverse all the progress they had made, and ruin what has become the most important relationship in Ryan’s life. PETCO’s policy is in direct defiance of the ADA’s rules and is simply against the law.
When a local television channel followed up on Ryan’s situation, PETCO responded by standing behind this new policy, citing “safety concerns.” Not only is this policy illegal, it’s harmful to people with disabilities and their service dogs alike.
Ryan values the assistance and difference Pico has made in his life and believes all people benefiting from the assistance of a service dog should be insured organizations should be in compliance with ADA.
By signing this petition, it will tell PETCO to reverse its discriminatory policies and allow service dog teams to stay together at all times. There are currently 52,196 supporters and the goal is to gather 75,000 signatures. Sign the petition today.
As is common in controversial topics, there are some accusing Ryan of not understanding ADA. To this end, he expresses his perspective and point of view here. Ryan has reached out via email to PETCO’s CEO, Jim Myers to find resolution to this situation. For 18 months Ryan had been allowed in the grooming area, each time signing a waiver of responsibility before PETCO’s implementation of the new policy. In addition to signing the petition, you may express your opinion directly to Mr. Myers and Jim.Myers@petco.com.
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